Land purchase is always fraught with fraudulent practices. For a reason, built environment experts advised unsuspecting members of the public to always conduct due diligence before parting with money. DAYO AYEYEMI, reports
IT’S no longer news that Ibeju-Lekki is the fastest growing industrial and residential hub in Nigeria.
It’s located in Epe Division of Lagos State, Ibeju-Lekki is undoubtedly the hottest and investment destination of choice for investors; thanks to the presence of Dangote refinery, Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lekki Deep Sea Port, Coastal road, Fourth Mainland Bridge and the proposed Lekki-Epe International Airport, among others within the corridor.
As investments in this region are expanding daily, no fewer than 3,000 property firms/individuals have registered their presence in the axis, marketing one product or the other.
As the rush for land in the corridor is getting more attraction by both Nigerians and those at the diaspora, some unsuspecting members of the public have got their hands burnt for failure to carry out due diligence before parting with money.
Many of them who alleged fraudulent practices among land speculators turned property developers, pointed out that two years after they made full payment for land in Ibeju-Lekki, they are yet to get allocation.
A realtor, Mrs Kemi Faloye, disclosed at a gathering in Lagos recently that a real estate development company had refused to grant her allocation to the land she subscribed to on behalf of more than 30 Nigerians in diaspora two years after full payment was made.
She said the action of the real estate firm had caused her and the clients’ great loss.
According to her, the 30 people paid N1.5million each through her to the firm, lamenting that apart from losing her credibility before the clients, the failed deal had caused her means of livelihood.
She said that all efforts made on getting the company to honour its earlier agreement did not yield results.
Although the state government promised to wade into the matter and help rid the state’s property market of fradulent practices by real estate developers, another realtor, Mrs Ify Chime, disclosed that another developer had refused her allocation of land after full payment.
She said the developer told many subscribers after collecting their money that he was having issue with both Omo-onile and government concerning the land.
In addition, the firm of Messrs Redline Properties Limited, two weeks ago sent an urgent letter to the Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, seeking his intervention to recover its parcels of land situated along Lagos/Epe Experessway opposite Alaun town via Eleko Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area.
The particular land, the firm alleged, was illegally invaded by another firm under the pretence of the authority’s backing.
A petition dated December 22,2022, written to the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioners of Justice, by an officer of Redline Properties Limited, Mr Olamilekan Olaleye, alleged unlawful encroachment, criminal invasion and forceful takeover/land grabbing of its landed properties.
Many other Nigerians also have their bitter experience about the same issue
For the built environment experts, Ibeju-Lekki axis is fast becoming the “new” Lagos, going by the proposed infrastructure and rush among real estate developers for land in the axis.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that most land in Ibeju-Lekki is under the state government’s acquisition; meaning that government has compulsory acquired the land from the private owners for overriding public purposes like roads, airport, low-cost housing estates, seaport or any other public infrastructure as provided by the Land Use Act 1978.
Although there are free lands, especially village excisions, most people ignorantly brought into government’s acquisition with the intension to regularise such, later.
Not many know thatregularisation is only possible on land under uncommitted government’s acquisition. If it is land under committed acquisition, the investor or buyer of such property stands the chance of losing everything.
The compulsory acquisition of land is the process by which the government acquires from private landowners their land, which is needed for any public purpose or for a purpose beneficial to the economic development of Nigeria.
According to Lagos’ Land Bureau website “Ratification (now referred to as Regularisation) is a policy of grace that avails squatters on uncommitted government’s land, the opportunity to obtain legal title to the land encroached upon from the state government.”
Rudiments of land purchase
Apparently worried by the huge number of land buyers that have fallen prey to the crime, some built environment experts who spoke with the Nigerian Tribune in Lagos, have called on them to always conduct due diligence before parting with money.
Some of the experts reeled out the rudiments for land acquisition in Ibeju-Lekki and any other locations in Nigeria.
According to the Principal Partner, Stephen Jagun and Associates, Pastor Stephen Jagun, an estate surveyor and valuer; “ it’s great wisdom to face and invest in the direction of value growth” but advised would-be investors to ensure they engage the services of professionals.
According to him, they must ensure that all their documentations are processed, pointing out that what investors or land buyers really possess at law are the legal documents.
“There will be several charattans hovering around such areas. Research the pedigree of those you are dealing with. Asked as many questions as possible and leave no grey areas. Find out about all the costs involved with the ownership; ensure that there are no hidden costs,” Jagun said.
Managing Director, MOA planners Ltd, Mr Moses Ogunleye, tasked intending investors or first-time land buyers on due diligence about the land before parting with money.
Ogunleye, who is currently handling Ibeju-Lekki Model City Plan, said he had seen many signboards erected by different property firms in the process of wooing investors to their proposed estates.
Ogunleye said: “I have seen many signboards, 10 minutes’ drive to Lekki Airport, Dangote Refinery, Lekki Seaport and the rest. People need to do their due diligence.
“They should be sure that the land they are buying is free from acquisition. Not only that, if you are buying land in a swampy area, it is going to cost you more money to reclaim or to develop. So if you are buying, be careful at the point you are buying or develop. “
“Usually those areas are wetlands, people think they can buy and rebuild or reclaim. The condition to reclaim the land can be so expensive. If you are buying land and you are not sure it is free from acquisition, you are creating problem for yourself. When government comes and is ready to develop, it will ask you to leave or do regularisation. However, as an investor you don’t take such high risk,” he said.
Ogunleye, a former President of Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), advised would- be investor or buyer to always find out if the land they are buying is free from acquisition when they are negotiating the price or cost.
“It is better if you get the allocation from the government. If you are getting it from the private sector, family or a group, you must ask for the right documents; get to the Office of the Surveyor- General to confirm it is not government’s land you are buying from an individual. You need to be sure that it is not committed government’s land. If a land is acquired but not committed, maybe regularisation is possible, but if it is committed, you need to find out,” the city planner said.
Past Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Lagos Chapter, Mr Bisi Adedire, said there was a need to critically examine land’s ownership in the area, the land use pattern, zoning pattern in Lekki-Epe corridor.
According to him, it is true that many people want to take advantage of the development of the area. This, he said, has given a room for plethora of land speculators.
“Many people want to take advantage of the location; therefore the land speculators are too many. People want to go there to invest forgetting that if you don’t have title to your land it is as if you don’t have anything.
“Moreso, people sell this land on deceit; they cajole people,” he said.
According to him, it has been observed that many people building around the corridor have no layout, title and building plans, adding that they have no ownership on the land.
To correct these anomalies, Adedire said it has become expedient to educate the investing public.
“Though there are village excisions in the corridor, they are very minimal compared to how people are buying land. The excised village is lesser. Now that there is an association of developers, they need to come together to sanitise the industry. The industry has become an allcomer affairs” the urban and regional expert said.
Going forward, he suggested that the state government should create the enabling environment and should let the public know the rudiments for land acquisition in Lagos State.
For buyers, he said “If you buy land with title that has a problem, in fact you don’t have a land. Before you put your money down, get the layout approval, title to the land, Deed of Assignments, lease, ratification.
“After getting satisfied that the land is genuine, you must ask for the zoning – what the land is earmarked for – industrial, residential, commercial etc.
“Ask for these necessary documents. Go to the Ministry of Physical Planning Department and get information about the land. Also, if you have the coordinates of the land, go to the Office of the Surveyor- General for chatting and get information about the status of the land.”
Perfection of title
Managing Director, Biodun Lawal Consulting, Mr. Abiodun Lawal, talked about the potential inherent in title’s perfection and processes developers must go through to secure their investments
According to him, perfection of title has to do with documentations, getting a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for land, registering a Deed of Assignment, or doing ratification, just to get title.
For any transaction to be binding on land, he said that one needed to get the title, pointing out that having a title ensure security and protect buyers from land grabbers
“When you have a title that is valid, that is security on the land. Then, for mortgage purposes, if a bank wants to give you loan, either for business or whatsoever, you must have a registered title on the land. If you are the owner of a land, it has to be registered before bank can grant such loans. If you register the land and it is verifiable at the Land Registry without encumberance, you get the loan. However, if there is any encumberance, bank won’t give you the loan,” he said
Lawal advised would-be land buyer or investor to exercise patience in conducting search on the status of the land
He said “If somebody wants you to develop his land for him, you must confirm any instrument he gives you, most especially the title. He may give you a survey plan of the land; you have to confirm the survey plan of the land by going to the ministry.
“There are some dubious people that won’t give you the full coordinates of the land. The best thing to do is to visit the Survey Department and get a land surveyor to check the actual coordinates of the land. The coordinates will now be charted to know the status of the land. If you are sure of this, you now demand for the title of the land and conduct your search at Land Registry. Once you are satisfied, you can proceed with the payment.”
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